Interim Physicians Blog

Dr. Ken's Corner: Do Threats of Malpractice Suits Improve Patient Care?

Posted by Ken Teufel M.D. on Jan 30, 2017 10:29:55 AM

The U.S. medical malpractice system deters physician negligence.  True or false?  A recent study by the American College of Surgeons looked at whether or not stronger malpractice laws prevent surgical complications (Journal of the ACS, December 16, 2016).  The widespread assumption has generally been that a strong malpractice environment equates with a better quality of patient care.  Not so, says the ACS.

“Measures of malpractice environment did not have significant, consistent associations with post-operative outcomes.”  Looking state-by-state, the study found that the strength of tort reform legislation has no apparent effect on improving patient outcomes.  Another unexpected (and unexplained) finding: States with the strongest laws in place are associated with a greater incidence of post-op complications—sepsis, pneumonia, acute renal failure, deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

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Topics: ACS, defensive medicine, Dr. Ken's Corner, Dr. Ken Teufel, Journal of the ACS, malpractice suits, patient care, physician careers, surgical complications

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